When the realignment dominoes fell more than a few people wondered what would happen with the reconstituted Big East, especially in regards to the caliber of prospect the ten schools would be able to recruit. Well the conference has done quite well for itself on the recruiting trail this offseason, and on Wednesday Xavier landed its third verbal commitment in the 2014 class with four-star power forward/center Makinde London announcing his decision to attend the school according to multiple outlets (subscription required).
London, a native of Spring Hill, Tenn., is a 6-foot-10 big man who attends Montverde Academy in Florida and saw his recruitment gain steam thanks to an 8-inch growth spurt. Weighing 195, London will have to bulk up some in preparation for the college game, but he’s expected to be a factor for a program that needed additional interior depth.
London took his official visit to Xavier less than two weeks ago, and with his decision to commit London joins guards J.P. Macura and Edmond Sumner in head coach Chris Mack’s 2014 recruiting haul. Add in Indiana transfer Remy Abell, who will sit out the 2013-14 campaign per NCAA transfer rules, and the Musketeers have a nice quartet to add to the program.
With forward Isaiah Philmore (7.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg) entering his final season, adding London to the mix will certainly help Xavier from a depth standpoint. London will join redshirt junior Matt Stainbrook (11.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg in 2011-12 at Western Michigan), redshirt freshman Jalen Reynolds (sat out the 2012-13 season as a non-qualifier) and sophomore James Farr in Xavier’s interior rotation in 2013-14.
What does London’s commitment mean for the Big East as a whole? He’s another talented prospect headed to the conference, which has seen a number of its members reel in quality prospects this summer. Of course Seton Hall’s received a lot of attention lately with the verbal commitment of guard Isaiah Whitehead, but Georgetown (Isaac Copeland, L.J. Peak and Paul White), Marquette (Sandy Cohen, Malek Harris), Providence (Jalen Lindsey, Paschal Chukwu) and Villanova (Phil Booth, Mikal Bridges) have also enjoyed a productive offseason on the recruiting trail.
Xavier guard Myles Davis, one of the premier perimeter shooters in the 2012 class, was forced to sit out the entire 2012-13 season after courses he took at Notre Dame Prep were invalidated by the NCAA. So Davis, without the ability to join the Xavier basketball program, was simply a student at Xavier last season. Now eligible, Davis is expected to be a key contributor for the Musketeers as they play their inaugural season in the Big East.
Davis’ path back to the court hit a minor bump in the road however, as it was reported by Shannon Russell of the Cincinnati Enquirer that the 6-2 guard underwent a minor arthroscopic procedure to repair a mild cartilage tear in his left knee.
“We felt it was best to take care of it now,” said Dr. Robert Burger, who added that surgery went well.
“He should be able to resume some basketball activities within a few weeks and we hope and expect that he will be 100 percent for the start of the season.”
Xavier wasn’t a bad three-point shooting team last season as their percentage of 35% ranked sixth in the Atlantic 10. But it can be argued that the percentage was in part a result of Chris Mack’s team not taking many shots from deep. The Musketeers’ 400 attempts ranked 15th in the Atlantic 10, and their 140 made three-pointers ranked 14th in the conference.
Adding Myles to the fold has the potential to open up driving lanes for point guard Semaj Christon, who was one of the best freshmen in the A-10 last season. The Musketeers return three of their top four scorers from last season’s 17-14 squad, including guard Dee Davis and wing Justin Martin.
Despite clawing back from seven points down in the final 4:40 of regulation to force overtime, No. 16 Saint Louis could not keep pace with Xavier in extra period and fell, 77-66, at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, Wednesday night.
The loss snaps and 11-game Saint Louis winning streak and keeps the Billikens from claiming at least a share of the Atlantic 10 regular season title with one game remaining. They are now tied atop the conference with Virginia Commonwealth at 12-4, but could fall into a three-way tie depending upon the winner of their final game of the regular season Saturday against La Salle.
If La Salle wins, it would move to 12-5, tied with Saint Louis. That would leave the door open for VCU to win the title outright with a win over Temple and finish at 13-4, or we could have a three-way tie atop the conference with a La Salle win and a VCU loss.
It’s all only par for the course in the Atlantic 10, a conference that already has five teams with 22+ wins on the season and if UMass wins its final two games, would have six teams reach the 20-win plateau. That all sets the stage for the A-10 tournament that will take place next week at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
In that tournament, any one of those 20-win teams could win it all and grab the automatic bid, not to mention the havoc (no relation to VCU) that we could see from upset-minded teams like Richmond, Charlotte, St. Joseph’s, and Xavier.
Get ready, Brooklyn.
Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_